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Trump Falsely Claims ‘99 Percent’ of Virus Cases Are ‘Totally Harmless’

  • July 06, 2020

Studies that have calculated the death rate based on broader antibody testing that takes these silent cases into consideration suggest an infection death rate of less than 1 percent, said Dr. Ashish K. Jha, the faculty director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

“It’s always tricky to do this in the midst of a pandemic,” Dr. Jha said. “There are a lot of factors that go into it. But let’s say you took 1,000 Americans at random who were all infected. Our best guess is that between six and 10 would likely die of the virus.”

And the death rate does not capture all of the harm caused by the disease. As many as 15 to 20 percent of known Covid-19 patients may require hospitalization, and of the group admitted, 15 to 20 percent are transferred into intensive care, according to some estimates.

In addition to hospitalization, another consideration that would complicate what defines harmlessness is the long-term implication for so many who have recovered or are still struggling to regain their pre-Covid lives.

Patients fortunate enough to survive a lengthy hospitalization and weeks in an intensive care unit or on a ventilator face a long road to recovery. Many will suffer debilitating long-term effects, including impaired lung function, neurological problems and cognitive deficits, and some may require lifelong care and not regain full independence.

Some patients have prolonged courses of illness, with fevers and weakness that lasts for weeks on end; the disease has also been linked to strokes that can be disabling, and much about how the disease affects the immune system long term is still unknown. Residual symptoms such as continuing shortness of breath, muscle weakness, flashbacks and mental fogginess can persist for some time.

“We don’t fully appreciate the long-term consequences of having Covid, even mild and moderate forms of Covid that were never admitted to the hospital,” said Dr. Thomas McGinn, the deputy physician in chief at Northwell Health and director of the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, who is studying the disease’s long-term effects.

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